Press Room

June 14, 2017 9:13:03 AM CST

Harris County Flood Control District Begins Expanded Submerged Vehicle Removal Project

Project Aims to Remove Vehicles Abandoned in Brays and Sims Bayous

Removals Set to Begin June 14 on Brays Bayou near Lidstone Street

A salvage contractor for the Harris County Flood Control District has begun work on a $218,255 project to remove submerged vehicles from Brays and Sims bayous. This is an expansion of a 2016 pilot project jointly funded by Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman and the City of Houston. 

> See Project Updates 

More than 100 submerged vehicles are suspected to be at the bottom of lower Sims and Brays bayous, raising public concerns about criminal activity and environmental issues. During the ten-day pilot project in early 2016, 20 cars and trucks were removed from four locations in Brays and Sims bayous. Most of the vehicles removed had been reported stolen but no other significant criminal evidence was recovered.

On March 28, 2017, Harris County Commissioners Court awarded a $218,255 contract to Port Arthur-based commercial diving and marine construction company Huffman Contractors LLC for the expanded Submerged Vehicle Removal Project. The goal of the project, which is being managed by the Flood Control District in cooperation with the Houston Police Department (HPD), is to remove as many vehicles as possible for the contract amount from eight locations in Brays and Sims bayous. The project cost is being shared by the City of Houston and Harris County Precinct 2.

Huffman Contractors’ bid proposed removing 65 vehicles for the contract amount, however, factors such as over-sized vehicles or heavy sediment could affect the final tally. Preliminary work is already underway near Lidstone Street on Brays Bayou, a location believed to have a high number of submerged vehicles. Actual vehicle removals are set to begin June 14. The vehicles were originally identified in 2012 surveys conducted by the search-and-recovery organization Texas Equusearch.

The contractor will use certified commercial divers and an excavator mounted on a series of floating barges to extract the submerged vehicles, along with other techniques.

As during the 2016 pilot project, the Flood Control District will work in close cooperation with HPD throughout the removal process. An auto theft investigator will be on site whenever vehicle extractions are underway. The investigator will call for additional crime scene expertise, if needed. Once removed, the vehicles will be transported for appropriate police processing, storage or disposal. Please contact the Houston Police Department, 713-308-3280, for further information on any of the recovered vehicles.

The Flood Control District also will comply with applicable environmental permit requirements.

The project is expected to take about 60 days, weather permitting. Please check the Flood Control District website for updates.

About the Pilot Project

The $49,500 Submerged Vehicle Removal Pilot Project launched January 27, 2016. For 10 days, marine services contractor Saltwater Salvage worked with subcontractor Apple Towing to remove vehicles from tidally influenced portions of Brays and Sims bayous. They utilized certified commercial divers, a floating barge, inflatable lift bags and a heavy-lift wrecker, along with other specialized equipment, to raise the vehicles from the bottom of Brays and Sims bayous and float them to the shore, where they were hauled out for police inspection and transported to the appropriate police or storage facility. Other vehicles were lifted from the water via a crane stationed on a nearby bridge or bank.

According to the Houston Police Department, most of the vehicles removed during the pilot project had been reported stolen, one during a 1999 aggravated robbery, and another during a 2000 home invasion/aggravated robbery. The oldest vehicle was a 1978 Datsun 280Z reported stolen in 1982. The newest vehicle was a 2002 Ford Ranger reported stolen in 2002.

ABOUT THE HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT

The Harris County Flood Control District provides flood damage reduction projects that work, with appropriate regard for community and natural values. With more than 1,500 bayous and creeks totaling approximately 2,500 miles in length, the Flood Control District accomplishes its mission by devising flood damage reduction plans, implementing the plans and maintaining the infrastructure.